Of Chariots and horses!- Psalm 20:7
Isn’t it amazing how there seems to be an ongoing mysterious magnetism which continues to make Christmas every bit as big as it was in past generations, even among those who have no Christian faith and who might actively try to do away with its true meaning? Here we are in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic and what do we find? Prime Ministers and First ministers on television assuring us that we will have some kind of Christmas...it’s a challenge of national importance!
David seems to have written Psalm 20 on just such an occasion of national importance. Apparently on the eve of a great military battle. A prayer for a God-centred confidence. The temptation is for both King and people to look to military might, “to chariots and horses” (20:7), as their hope for victory. Instead, the people look to the Lord and to the king He has appointed over them. Why? Because, in Israel, when God answers the king, God’s king (20:1-5), He answers them.
The question is, from where does David get this confidence? Perhaps it’s from the word of the Lord who speaks from “his heavenly sanctuary” (20:6). Away back at the beginning of David’s call to kingship God spoke very plainly to him through the prophet Nathan: “I will raise up your offspring to succeed you...I will establish his kingdom...Your house and your kingdom will endure for ever before me; your throne will be established forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-16). A promise that someone spectacular was going to come from his house (family or dynasty) and He would reign forever. David’s “trust in the name of the Lord his God” (20:7) was the foundation of his confidence.
Now, it may be that the only battles you are likely to face during these December weeks are the ones about getting all the presents sorted, ordering the turkey, family getting home and will there be a family Christmas at all...because Covid-19 has complicated everything! All very important but subject to the same temptation that faced David and his people...to trust in “chariots and horses”... people-power...or to “trust in the name of the Lord our God.”
How do we do the latter? Advent! Its an ancient invitation to slow down, mark the days, aim for a more achievable pace of life, wait for Christmas with patience and hope...focus on the promised “offspring” from the “house of David”...Jesus. Jesus born in Bethlehem, crucified for our sins, risen victorious over death and the grave, ascended to that “heavenly sanctuary” from where He reigns as King forever; from where He will come at the second Advent.
This is a season to look to our anointed King, Jesus. God always answers Him and honours His sacrifice: “we have an Advocate with the Father – Jesus Christ, the righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.” (1 John 2:1-2). We are only four days into Advent. It’s not too late to put the “chariots and horses” in their proper place...underneath “the name of the Lord our God”...Jesus! And may your Advent be filled with the coming of Jesus.